Glucosamine supplements are popular for joint health and the health of all connective tissues in your body. The availability of glucosamine for any body tissue is rate limiting in terms of the ability of that tissue to repair or rejuvenate itself, meaning glucosamine is essential for your physical well being. New science now shows that glucosamine, in addition to its extreme value as a structural raw material, is also a nutrient that regulates your health in multiple ways. This is a new frontier in human nutrition and is likely a key reason behind the recent finding that glucosamine can extend life.
One example of glucosamine's newly discovered talent relates to your body's response to infection. During bacterial infection there is an increase in LPS (lipopolysaccharide) which provokes a human inflammatory response (excess IL-6 production). LPS will damage tissue in the lungs as well as your circulation, which would need glucosamine to repair the damage. The interesting point about this research is that glucosamine turns down a gene-related response system (MAP kinase) with the net result of reducing inflammation in response to an external stimulus (such as bacterial LPS). This study means that not only does your body seem to know there will be an increased need for glucosamine to heal an acute stress, but glucosamine itself will help manage the stress response and reduce the amount of inflammation and thereby help limit the amount of tissue damage. This is clear proof that glucosamine is doing something far more than just acting as a structural raw material.
In addition to an acute inflammatory infection many health problems are associated with ongoing low-grade infection. For example, prostate cancer cells grow in response to ongoing and inappropriate inflammatory signals (such as IL-1 beta and IL-8). Another new study shows that glucosamine can turn down these inflammatory signals within prostate cancer cells, once again by turning down excessive activity of the MAP kinase system. Thus we see that glucosamine, through a novel anti-inflammatory system, directly helps manage both acute and chronic inflammation with specific implications for human health that extend well beyond basic joint and connective tissue support.
A normal proteolytic enzyme (matrix metalloproteinase-3 or MMP-3) becomes over-active in response to inflammation and causes cartilage building cells (chondrocytes) to work against joint tissue and actually damage joint tissue. Indeed, the over-activity of MMP-3 along your arteries has recently been implicated in the process of how plaque formation occurs. Glucosamine, and especially in combination with chondroitin, was found to turn down the gene activity of MMP-3, providing a direct anti-inflammatory effect. This effect was further enhanced by the synergistic combination of other antioxidants including vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium. A different animal study confirms that glucosamine can directly lower plaque formation in arteries via its anti-inflammatory properties.
Glucosamine accelerates the healing process but does not block it. For example, some inflammation is required for any healing to take place. Looking into the liver and lymph-related inflammation associated with joint injury it was found that glucosamine treatment enabled peak inflammation to occur sooner followed by faster recovery.
Another interesting new study shows that glucosamine helps the stem cells naturally residing within teeth to become new cells that support the rejuvenation of tooth structure. Apparently, the presence of the glucosamine molecule is needed for rejuvenation cells to go into action. This makes sense, since there would be no need to go into repair action if there was no raw material on hand to assist in the repair. But it also means that there is a gene regulating aspect of rejuvenation that glucosamine is directly helping to manage.
These are exciting times in the world of nutrition. New gene technology is proving beyond any question the extreme value of dietary supplements for human health. Old molecular technology easily proved the essential role of glucosamine in the formation and rejuvenation of body tissue. The new science is showing that glucosamine has brains of its own and is an active manager of the inflammation response - with potential widespread application to many aspects of health.
By Byron J. Richards, CCN Founder/Director of Wellness Resources, Inc.
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